We are Bolton snaps into action 

We are Bolton

Creative artists, councillors and Bolton citizens have gathered for the launch of a new exhibition celebrating the town’s ‘greatest asset’ – its people.

We are Bolton, which launched on Friday evening (3 June 2016), features work by University of Bolton students showcasing portraits and images of local residents and workers in the town.

The show, taking place at the Bolton Museum and Art Gallery in the town centre’s historic quarter, was officially opened by former Mayor of Bolton Cllr Carole Swarbrick.

Speaking on the opening night, she told the audience her reasons for devising the initiative, before current Mayor, Cllr Lynda Byrne, cut the red ribbon.

After being introduced by Head of Libraries and Museums in Bolton Julie Spencer, Cllr Swarbrick explained that, as her legacy on leaving the Mayoral position, she wished to document and recognise everyday life in the town. She said: ‘I wanted to celebrate the Bolton Family. In my opinion, the residents of Bolton are its greatest asset.

‘The photographs reflect the changing face of the town and its residents whilst reminding us of its long history. This is an opportunity for us to reflect on and pay tribute to the Bolton Family 2016.’

 The exhibition by second year University of Bolton Photography BA (Hons) students features photos of everyday life in Bolton, from cleaners at the University to women selecting wedding dresses to the town’s firemen.

Shown alongside older photographs of Bolton, and taking Humphrey Spender’s Mass Observation Worktown collection from the 1930s as inspiration, We are Bolton offers up a new archive to document the town and its people.

The day before the launch, commuters were able to get a sneak-peek of the work, with a selection of images duplicated and displayed at Bolton railway station café, between platforms one and three.

Cllr Swarbrick thanked University of Bolton Vice Chancellor, Professor George E Holmes DL and Head of Bolton School of the Arts, Sam Johnson, for their support of the project and praised the students for their hard work. She said: ‘The students are inspirational, creative and enthusiastic, and this wonderful exhibition is warm, funny, thought-provoking, edgy and interesting – I hope it generates discussion.’

 Dr Terry Speake, Senior Lecturer in Photography at the University, oversaw the project.

‘This exhibition is a window on professionals in the making. They are carrying on a great tradition – documenting the here and now. The idea of working with the community in such a palpable way was incredible and it has far exceeded our expectations,’ he said.

 Photography student Paul Cliff was awarded ‘The Carole Swarbrick Award’ for his outstanding contribution to the We are Bolton project. The deadline for the event was only a month ago so the organisation timeframe was pressured. He said: ‘I got everybody’s work together, and arranged for it to be printed and framed. I’m part of the cogs!’

 The We are Bolton exhibition at the Bolton Museum and Art Gallery runs until 30 September. Opening times are: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 9am-5pm; Wednesday 9.30am-5pm; Sunday 10am-4pm. Admission is free.

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Joanne Cooke
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